Michael Rosen is the sort of person I’d like to have come round to my house. He simply helped himself to tea from one of the tables (I suspect they might have omitted laying out tea for the star of Afternoon Tea at the Midland) and then plonked himself in the empty space in the middle of the room and started being amusing. I.e. not where he was meant to be.
This had the effect of freeing up his original ‘high’ table, so three of us sat down there, and I had a slight inkling of what it’s like to sit at the signing table in the middle of ‘the stage.’
But since Michael probably won’t be popping round to Bookwitch Towers, it’s as well he came to the Midland to entertain a roomful of children. They were fairly small ones, with parents in tow. Like the born entertainer he is, he seamlessly chatted and made jokes and poetry, as though we had known each other for a long time.
It could have turned into a short acquaintance, seeing how he made the assembled fans hold their breaths. According to Michael you have to expect quite a few children not to make it. At least that’s what it was like during his schooldays in 3rd year juniors. (Yeah, they spoke funny in those days.)
I suspect what he did was teach/read us a poem while having people flap pretend school-desk lids in the air, breathing behind the non-existent lids. After his massive lie about the death toll at school, Michael opened the floor to questions, and I have never heard an author deal with the inspiration question better. Basically it’s got to do with standing under Hungerford Bridge and screaming, and then feeling the bridge supports.
You do get what he meant, I hope?
We found out how his Dad dealt with noisy children. (Apparently Michael and his fossil of an older brother were naughty and noisy and needed dealing with.) You rest your hand on your temple and say ‘The Noise’ in a longsuffering kind of way. While describing the antics of the little Rosens, Michael accidentally taught his audience lots of bad behaviour.
Maybe Michael is the only person to have discovered the Secretary of State for Education in Jabberwocky, but do have a look. He is in there. This worthy poem got a mention because Michael likes to make up new words. With his parents he was never quite sure if what they said was in English, Yiddish or plain made up. Neither did his mother.
Someone inquired about her names (strange questions are good), and as a bonus we learned that Mr Rosen’s middle name is Wayne. He is old for a British Wayne, but not the oldest. The oddest place he has ever written in was a headteacher’s toilet, and while we are on a plumbing theme, one embarrassing moment in Michael’s life happened at medical school when he was mistaken for the plumber, come in to fix a leak.
He likes raisins and chickpeas, and the person he envies the most is James Draper of the mcbf. (Because James has a school for writing children’s books, and gets to wear a suit, and because MMU has Carol Ann Duffy.) Michael was very nicely dressed in a purple V-neck, so there was no need at all to covet those three-piece suits.
Soon after mentioning a new book called Fluff the Farting Fish, Michael realised he might be preventing his audience from partaking of their afternoon tea, so he stopped talking. Sort of. He went round to individual tables and chatted instead.
(I have been forbidden to use the best photograph of the day. Apparently my photographer has her own blog where it will go. Hmph.)